Go Ahead, Break a Rule
Written by Jeff Standridge on Jun. 21 2018
A few years back, Robert Fulghum’s book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” was all the rage. Fulghum’s text does reminds us that simple actions like cleaning up our messes and playing fair are the keys to a good life. While Fulghum is certainly correct in his assertion that applying childhood lesson’s to adult situations is applicable, there is danger in this philosophy. In kindergarten, we are conditioned to think that, above all else, we should follow the rules. As leaders, innovators and change agents, one of our unspoken mandates is to know when (and how) to break the rules.
If that mandate conjures Scooby Doo howling “Huuuuhhh?” in your mind, think about how well following established procedures worked for the folks at United Airlines in the spring of 2017. The forceable removal of a passenger randomly chosen on a full flight to free up seats for a United aircrew member did irreparable damage to the company’s image. All the United associates involved in resolving that situation followed company rules and procedures to the letter. If someone had had the courage to break the rules and defuse the situation, things might have turned out differently for the United brand.
Manuals, procedures, and common practice are not sacred tomes designed to cover the nuances of every situation. As leaders, we must be willing to do what’s right when our guidelines fall short. Yes, there can be professional consequences for going rogue. However, the rewards of judicious rule-breaking can benefit you, your team, your customers, and your organization. I can guarantee the Board of Directors of United Airlines now wishes someone had broken the rules on that day in 2017.

Consider this …
1. What rules in your business, organization or industry need to be challenged?
2. How can you go about challenging those rules in a manner that limits downside risks, but creates the greatest upside potential?

Prioritize three major rules that need to be challenged and take the appropriate steps to challenge them. Once you’re done, move on to the next three.

Jeff Standridge

Jeff Standridge helps people start and grow successful businesses. He is an expert at helping people generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth.
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